Several changes have been made following several key injuries and poor Week 3 performances.
With three preseason games in the books, here's my latest swing at predicting the final 53-man roster.
Analysis: I still can't see Matt Scott making the team, but he does make it onto the practice squad.. AJ McCarron will start the year on PUP, and possibly see his season end in 6-8 weeks if/when he's placed on IR.
Potential Surprise: Scott has an epic game Thursday and fights his way onto the roster as a third QB.
Running Backs (4)
Analysis: Rex Burkhead's injury severity is still unknown, and if he's able to return to action within the next few weeks, I could see Cincinnati keeping him instead of Green-Ellis.
That, or he's out long enough that the Bengals are forced to cut him, and he's hopefully put on the practice squad if he clears waivers. That all but secures Green-Ellis' spot on the roster, though he's not exactly looked great this preseason. IF James Wilder Jr. could step up, he could push for Green-Ellis' spot.
Peerman has gotten the bulk of backup carries behind Hill and Bernard, and it looks like Cincinnati is sneaking Wilder onto the practice squad.
Potential Surprise: The Bengals cut or trade Green-Ellis.
Tight Ends (3) and Fullback (1)
Analysis: The Bengals want to use a true fullback after going with four TEs last year. Hewitt gives them the best of both worlds. He's been running with the starters frequently, and the coaches talk as if he's already made the team.
The third TE spot comes down to either Smith or Orson Charles. The Bengals love having either an extra blocking TE, and Smith is a superior blocker to that of Charles.The good news is Charles can be signed to the practice squad.
Potential Surprise: Charles beats Smith out for the third TE spot.
Wide Receivers (6)
Analysis: Cobi Hamilton has been an enigma this preseason, and at this point, he loses the final WR spot to Wright. and because James Wright has a bigger special teams impact, he makes it over Cobi. Wright simply offers more on special team,s and by all indications, he's looked better playing WR in practice than Hamilton.
Brandon Tate makes the roster and splits time with Adam Jones as the punt returner. Tate also likely is the full-time kickoff returner.
Potential Surprise: Hamilton makes the roster over Wright, or they both make it and the Bengals go with 7 WRs.
Offensive Line (8)
Mike Pollak (C/G)
Russell Bodine (C)
Kevin Zeitler (G)
Clint Boling (G)
Marshall Newhouse (G/T)
Andrew Whitworth (T/G)
Andre Smith (T)
TJ Johnson (G/C)
Undrafted free agent guard Trey Hopkins would have made the roster if not for Sunday's injury that will likely end his season, or at the very least, lead to him being waived and signed to the practice squad.
Johnson makes the roster because of Hopkins' injury. He's had a good camp, and was getting reps withe second-team offense last week and in the third preseason game.
Potential Surprise: Tanner Hawkinson or Will Svitek make the roster instead of Johnson.
Defensive Ends (6)
Analysis: Clarke is a work in progress, but he's not getting cut. Moch is once again making a strong push for the final roster, and he finally breaks through. The Bengals also keep Geathers for the veteran leadership he provides, and he's had a decent showing this preseason.
Potential Surprise: Geathers is cut and/or Sam Montgomery makes the roster.
Analysis: The final two spots comes down to Porter, Flowers, Jayson DiManche and JK Schaffer. Flowers and Porter win out. If it's even close, the Bengals have invested more in Flowers and Porter anyhow, and DiManche and Schaffer can probably get snuck onto the practice squad.
Potential Surprise: DiManche manages to crack the roster.
Defensive Tackles (4)
Analysis: Preferably, the Bengals would like to keep 5 DTs with Geno coming off a torn ACL, but there's no one worthy of a roster spot, leaving the Bengals with just four DTs.
Because Wallace Gilberry, Robert Geathers and even Margus Hunt will line up occasionally at DT, that essentially gives the Bengals 5-6 guys at DT.
Potential Surprise: Christo Bilukidi makes the roster.
Analysis: The top 5 are locked in. All that's left is to figure out if LaVelle Westbrooks or Victor Hampton are worthy of a sixth spot. Chris Lewis-Harris is suspended for the first 2 games, meaning he doesn't count against the roster.
Ultimately, Hampton and Westbrooks are signed to the practice squad and the Bengals go with 5 CBs to start the season.
Potential Surprise: Westbrooks or Hampton make the cut and the Bengals go with 6 CBs to start the season.
Analysis: Nelson and Iloka are the starters with Manning and Williams being the two primary backups. Mays gets seldom snaps here and at LB.
Potential Surprise: Manning is cut to carry an extra player at another position.
Special Teams (3)
Analysis: The Bengals special teams trio was solid last year, and they'll return many of the same faces in 2014. Nugent outlasted Quinn Sharp for the kicking job. Huber is the only punter on the roster.
Potential Surprise: None
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